Volunteers of the Year

The Jill Stevenson’s cup is awarded in recognition of the commitment and dedication shown and an acknowledgement of how highly we value our volunteers.

2021 – Linley Talbot

From: Sourcing Sponsorship and ensuring Sponsors are informed and included in our organisation. Leasing and attending to the needs of Zoe. Organising and supporting fundraising activities. Liaising with a well-known company, Chep, who send in a working bee team twice a year to complete some tough chores around the property. Organising and working with other volunteers cutting weeds, painting the clubrooms and generally tidying up the property. Weed spraying around the yards, clubrooms and paddocks. For years, we picked up and bagged poo, reluctantly giving it away, but Linley saw an opportunity to raise a few dollars for RDA. Knowing we make a little money out of such an unenjoyable chore, it’s so much easier cleaning a paddock!
Working on the RDA Committee for the past three years and in 2021 stepping into the role of Chair for the Pony Committee, working alongside Fiona to organise the care and ongoing well-being of our horses.
Interacting with all RDA stakeholders – whether it’s HO, sponsors, people who have leased their horses to us, volunteers, TPEC grazers, including the Pony Club who sometimes request the use of our horses. 
Armed with all this information she also assists in producing our newsletter, and regularly posts on our Facebook page.
To: Her day-to-day volunteering with our riders at RDA, she continues to be an exceptional role model for us all. 
On behalf of us all Linley, congratulations.
[adapted from Loraine Grant’s presentation speech]

Six years ago a local advert caught my eye, TPRDA were looking for volunteers. Having recently stopped working, the idea of being outdoors with horses and people appealed. I had horse experience, history as a bank training manager, going on to part-time working in sales and finishing my paid working life as a school secretary. My twin sons with homes of their own have well and truly left the nest. I was ready to try my hand at volunteering.  At the time I started, RDA was short on help to prep horses in the mornings, I started in the stables and haven’t really looked back. I was happy to do anything, side walking, leading horses, mucking out or whatever was required. Over time I’ve gravitated to doing what I really love which is working with horses. As a horse leader, I have volunteered on Mondays primarily leading Lily and her riders. It’s immensely satisfying seeing riders develop confidence and be part of the RDA team that make the enjoyment and benefits of riding a reality for people with a disability.  This is what I love most about RDA.
Being a volunteer at RDA is addictive and slowly my role has somewhat evolved. At the time being a youngish retiree I felt I could take on more responsibility so tentatively offered to help with the PR, Sponsorship and donation role.  I’m still doing this and a little more as I also chair The Pony Committee and have found my voice at our RDA Committee meetings too.

I love the outdoors and keep fit with walking, hiking, biking and most recently kayaking. My absolute happy place is my time on horseback and I’m lucky to be able to lease and ride RDA pony, Zoe. With helping to care and ride Zoe I have a good excuse to be in my happy place and work alongside like-minded people I can call friends.  

Thank you.

2020 – John Tooman & Peter Lawn

It is with heartfelt sadness that in 2020 we awarded this trophy to two outstanding volunteers we lost – Peter Lawn and John Tooman .

Volunteer Loraine Grant shares her memories.

John Tooman

John Tooman pictured to the right.

I’m not suggesting John had any favourites but he most definitely preferred the company of our horses – he adored them all and in his eyes they were perfect. Mind you he was appreciative of a pretty face and you would find him quick to assist the lady caregivers and parents with their riders. His morning and lunch breaks would always be spent in the stables, spoiling the horses with treats and sweet talking Tobi into performing her duties “Come on Darling,” he would coax her “I’ll look after you” and he did.

There was not a chore that John wouldn’t do – picking up poo, putting hay out, taking horses back to the paddock, not to mention cleaning of the stables. Even after Jeanne and I had tidied up, it would not be quite good enough and John would complete a final rake over – perfectly.

My favourite memory will always be the smile at the gate at the end of a busy day. He would wait for us all to leave, holding the gate so us old ladies didn’t have to get out of the car – but like a lot of old ladies we would get distracted having a chat when suddenly we realised John was waiting.

John was a gentle man and we miss him.

Peter Lawn

Peter liked the horses but loved the camaraderie that RDA provided. His relationships with some of our other entertaining RDA men, Alan, Dave, and Jim to mention a couple, were special to Peter as he displayed to his riders the importance of friendship. If you have ever worked with these guys, you will understand they have their own code of conduct which their riders thoroughly enjoy as well.

A recent memory of Peter and his willingness to participate in all things RDA, was when Mike, our own Bob the builder, recruited a couple of the men to assist with the clubroom repairs. His workforce consisted of Peter, Cliff and Chris – an accountant, a businessman and a lawyer – what hope did Mike have? The Lawyer concerned if the legal permit to do the work was valid, the accountant wanting to know whether the books would balance and the business manager insisting they make a profit on the job!!! One Friday when they were working I provided the morning tea, and I swear poor Mike was ready to call in the union – there was truly so much fun and friendship as these men toiled away finally completing the task and realising in the process that their past career choices possibly had been the right ones, while acknowledging respect for Mike’s profession as a builder.

Peter was assigned to lead Hershey on a Monday – goodness knows why? Because as placid and gentle as Hershey was, he was also cunning enough to know a soft touch and he had Peter sussed immediately. Peter would ask me for guidance on how to make Hershey move, and I would show him using a firm but fair request to “walk on Hershey” but as soon as my back was turned. Peter and Hershey returned to their mode of movement – very slow!!

With sadness, but appreciation of having these memories to share with you, I ask our President Cliff Dawson to come up to accept the Jill Stevenson volunteer’s trophy on behalf of our mates Peter and John. And ask that it be displayed in the clubrooms for us all to enjoy and remember these two men who gave so much to us, our riders and our horses.

2019- Doug Humby

2019’s award went to Doug Humby, a reliable, kind, creative person who quietly gets things done. On Monday’s and Tuesday’s, he can be seen arriving early to put out the cones and safety barriers. He then puts in full days side-walking with the riders and is one of those legends who cleans up the arena during RDA sessions. He can often be spotted looking through the lens of his camera and his photographs bring much joy to many people. He is highly commended and valued by all at TPRDA.

When a call came for additional volunteer support for the Tuesday riding sessions I put my hand up…why did I do that I ask myself, I’m retired and already committed! And that’s the cue…commitment and being passionate about what one does. Especially so when you are able to witness, in your heart daily, the results RDA produces for the many and varied disabilities we have amongst our riders.

Thank you. Doug Humby

2019 – Cliff Dawson

As a Volunteer, Coach, Horse Leader, Side Walker and Committee Member this is a truly fitting reward after being around doing whatever is needed for many years. Both Cliff’s knowledge and expertise are much appreciated by riders, parents, the Pony Team, the Coaching Team and all the other volunteers.
Cliff says…………
“Being presented with the Jill Stevenson Cup for Volunteer of the Year Award 2019, was an honour, but one I did not expect: Why did I become involved in RDA?
I had some knowledge of horses as a teenager, but my real interest in horse riding goes back to the 70s, when my wife and I and our twin sons moved back to Auckland. Our sons have cerebral palsy and from the age of 2-1/2 years when living in Christchurch had weekly visits from physiotherapists and a programme of exercises was introduced and performed on a daily basis.
Some 45 years ago, an RDA was started in Christchurch and the boys had a few sessions there and then we moved to Auckland. Our boys attended normal schools and did not have teacher aides. Physio at the time was difficult to get, this meant as parents we were heavily involved in maintaining their exercise programme, including swimming. We understood the importance of horse riding and made the decision to purchase our own ponies and took the boys riding regularly at the weekends. The boys thoroughly enjoyed their years riding and there is no doubt that it contributed hugely to their self esteem, confidence and love of animals.
Having the opportunity to take several years off work, in 2003 I spotted an advertisement for volunteers at Ambury Park RDA. I paid a visit, and before I knew it was side walking. I progressed to horse leading and started my training as a coach. My time at Ambury RDA, was so enjoyable, that I forgot about returning to work, this was much more fun.
Eventually with the traffic chaos in Auckland, I moved to Totara Park RDA.
This wonderful organisation, again gave me the opportunity of doing what I really enjoy, working with horses and riders.
It has been a privilege to be part of a team of staff and volunteers, who truly make a difference to all of our riders.
So, I continue to look forward to each riding day.”

2018 – Mike Exton

Mondays and Thursdays [and often days in between!] Mike devotes his time to volunteering at TPRDA. From arriving early to groom and saddle up the team, leading a horse on all rides, feeding and cleaning up at the end of the day, to happily tackling any repairs or projects needed. He has a wonderful rapport with our riders and horses and we greatly appreciate his commitment and dedication… always done with a smile!A very well deserved award Mike!

2017 – Heather Raudon

2017’s award went to a very deserving recipient, Heather Raudon.
Heather used to work as a lab technician for the DSIR (Department of Scientific & Industrial Research.) She also spent 20 years volunteering as a coach in track & field & basketball for the Special Olympics.
Heather joined us about 5 years ago and quickly took on working with the riders, plus committee roles.
She cheerfully side-walks our riders Mondays and Thursdays, volunteers as Treasurer for Neighbourhood Support, works as Invigilator at MIT, bird-watches via kayak and keeps fit on her rowing machine!
In her ‘spare time,’ she is our Secretary, Privacy Officer, Vulnerable Persons Officer and keeper of everything pertaining to our riders.
‘If you want something done, ask a busy person!’
What does Heather love about RDA?

‘It’s fascinating and such a delight, watching the riders achieving their goals plus the teamwork of horses and volunteers…unlocking the magic within. Also, there is the bonus of the beautiful view on top of the world!’
Congratulations, Heather, thank you so much for all you do, you are a real treasure.”

2017 – Loraine Grant

Loraine has filled every role at RDA and continues to support us in many ways. On average, she spends around 7 hours a week doing chores, over and above her RDA duties as Leader and Sidewalker.
She is usually up at the park 4-5 days each week feeding and grooming our precious pony herd, cleaning paddocks, organising the lessees and being available when needed for treatments etc.
Somewhere in all this she manages to fit in a few rides on her favourite horse, Hershey!
Loraine, we cannot thank you enough for all that you do for TPRDA.
You are an exceptional gem whom we greatly appreciate.
Loraine says…
“After a rewarding teaching career in NZ, PNG and finally Australia spanning almost four decades, I returned to NZ to retire, whatever THAT looks like!!!
I noticed an advertisement in the local paper wanting volunteers for RDA and having spent the last few years of my career, working with physically and learning disabled children, along with my life long love of horses, I felt this was an opportunity for me to give back.
That was exactly nine years ago and I still enjoy everything thing about TPRDA – a great organization managed by clever and caring people.

During my time with TPRDA, I undertook a coaching role and was fully supported by the Committee in my professional development – giving me some wonderful learning opportunities with many highly respected trainers. 
My love of horses and kids is totally fulfilled. I have been the lessee of our gorgeous horse Hershey for eight years and have again, been privileged to learn so much from him.  My respect for both the horses and the volunteers is unwavering.
The dedication, professionalism, companionship and expertise makes RDA days very special.

My favourite quote: “With horses and children with disabilities, you will never know it all,” which makes us all, life long learners. How lucky are we? I thank you for this acknowledgement and accept it on behalf of all our willing volunteers and our eight wonderful steeds.
PS – This is special to me: my intellectually disabled brother rode in the Gisborne RDA when I was a young teacher – his joy remains a wonderful memory. “

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